Detroit Tigers: Is There Enough Depth in Left Field?


Feb 18, 2014; Lakeland, FL, USA; Detroit Tigers outfielder Andy Dirks during a team practice at Joker Marchant Stadium. (Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports)

According to multiple reports, among them the Detroit Free Press, Tigers left fielder Andy Dirks will be having surgery and will miss around 12 weeks.  For the next three months or so, the Tigers are stuck with a hole in left field. This not only presents the immediate issue of who will be in left for the start of the season, but do the Tigers have issues with depth at certain positions, most notably in the outfield?

This a question that will be answered through the remainder of spring training and into the start of season.  As of right now, the prime choice for the position is the other half of the planned platoon that the Tigers are putting together for the season. The planned platoon was Dirks starting against right-handed pitchers, and Rajai Davis getting the start against left-handed pitchers. Davis is less effective against righties (career v. RHP: .255/.297/.353; career: v. LHP: .294/.354/.425) and Dirks likewise with lefties (career v. LHP: .265/.328/.392; career v. RHP: .278/.333/.418). Davis is the prime choice to fill the position for the duration of three months until Dirks is ready to play again.

Since it appears Davis will be the primary left fielder, the Tigers will be looking internally for a backup.  The most likely candidate is Don Kelly who is already on the 40-man roster and was more or less slated to be the fifth outfielder. While he is a good back up for later in games, he is not really that great of an option for starting.

Aside from Kelly, the other choices are pretty slim. There are Ezequiel Carrera and Daniel Fields, both of whom are currently in camp and can possibly serve as a short-term option against right-handed pitching should Kelly stumble.

Whatever the plan, it will most likely be an idea that does, in fact, come out of left field. For the time being, it looks like the Tigers may have a potential shortcoming that could be a talking point as the season runs its course.